Hidden Perspectives

Bringing the Bible Out of the Closet

Movie Review: Prayers for Bobby by Aysha Musa

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prayers-for-bobby7She loves everything about her son… except who he is. – Prayers for Bobby

Prayers for Bobby is a movie where the LGBT community and religion intersect in this true story revolving around a Christian family who’s youngest son comes out as being gay. The family’s unaccepting nature and belief that his homosexuality is an illness that can be cured through prayer, leads to Bobby (Ryan Kelley) committing suicide. This dramatic event lead his mother (Sigourney Weaver) to question everything she once held as fact, leading to her investigate LGBT readings of the bible and going on to become a gay pride activist whilst maintain her devout faith.

In an age and culture where words can be potent and have a lasting effect on an individual or group, Prayers for Bobby, displays, in a sensitive manner a script which engages with the audiences emotions on a number of levels. The script speaks to those that identify as religious, LGBT, both or neither. The nature of the writing, challenges the basic structure and society based doctrines of religion that oppress and define people through what appears to be the ideal mother, home maker and Christian, whilst maintaining religions meaningfulness due to the comfort and positivity it can bring.

Kelley played the role of Bobby simply and honestly. There was nothing showy or flamboyant, yet his style was distinctive as he portrayed what the audience felt was real life struggles between his religion and sexuality, real events such as the  persecution he felt from his family and real emotions which leading to his suicide. In this way his portrayal allowed the audience to focus on the story and characters rather than the acting and the actors. Furthermore, Weaver played Bobby’s mother in a way many mothers could relate to; only wanting what, in her opinion, is best for her son, health and happiness (in this life and the next).

The directing of Prayers for Bobby was effective in highlighting the key issues; the problem of interaction between LGBT communities and religion, when doctrine and devotion are chosen over communication and community as well as the fragmented nature of Bobby’s thoughts which were evident from the directors use of cinematography which effectively used visual imagery to convey Bobby’s scattered and disjointed thoughts and emotions.

This interaction between LGBT individuals and religion need not be a personal experience for the audience to relate to in order to feel the impact ignorance had on the young Bobby, as it was a poignant depiction regarding the dangers ignorance. In my opinion this is a must see movie, while it is not action packed and fast paced it will stay with you forever.

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Author: Hidden Perspectives

A research project within the Sheffield Institute for Interdisciplinary Biblical Studies (SIIBS) at The University of Sheffield.

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